Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The challenges facing women in Zimbabwe

Women’s rights around the world is an issue that WI members feel very strongly about. In June 2007, members attending our AGM voted to send a letter to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband about women’s rights in Zimbabwe.

Based on our Women’s Human Rights resolution of 1999, the letter expressed our concern at the Zimbabwean Government’s actions and urged the Foreign Secretary to use his influence to take action to help women in Zimbabwe access affordable sanitary protection without threat or intimidation.

While the government’s response to our letter highlighted various initiatives it supported in Zimbabwe, none directly addressed the issue of women’s sanitary protection.

Since Zimbabwe’s economic decline began, the price of sanitary goods has increased to three-quarters of a woman’s monthly salary. Most Zimbabwean women simply cannot afford this.

In late 2005, the Dignity! Period. campaign was launched by Action for South Africa (ACTSA). This was to support the rights of Zimbabwe women to have access to safe and hygienic sanitary protection every month. You can read more about the impact that lack of access to sanitary products has on women and girls by visiting their website.

Recently manufactures that have supported the Dignity! Period. campaign for the past two years have withdrawn their support. Sadly, despite the power-sharing agreement within Zimbabwe’s new MDC-Zanu PF unity government, basic sanitary protection is still completely unaffordable to the vast majority of women in the country. To find out more and get involved, please visit the Dignity! Period. campaign website.

You can find our more about the WI’s work on women’s rights issues worldwide on our website.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Welcome to my blog

In recent months I have posted on this blog as Chair of the NFWI’s Public Affairs committee, the part of the WI that takes on most of the campaigning.

But I was elected Chair of the NFWI in June which means my ‘area of responsibility’ is now the whole organisation. Wow! Together with many other members, I work to achieve the WI’s objectives of enabling women to make a difference in their communities and to provide a setting for learning. This can be within an individual WI, in a federation, at our adult education centre, Denman College, in Oxfordshire, or from campaigning action.

There is a niche for every woman in the WI with lots of opportunities to make friends and to have fun. I know this is true. I joined the WI more than 30 years ago at the age of 23 and have made so many friends and had the best times; and I still love being part of the WI.

I will be blogging on a range of subjects and issues in the coming months and look forward to hearing your comments.